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Sun, Aug. 25

Jury seated in long-awaited DeMocker trial: Judge warns against 'CSI,' 'People's Court' expectations

PRESCOTT - An 18-person jury has been empanelled in the murder trial of Steven DeMocker.

DeMocker is facing charges of first-degree murder, burglary, fraudulent schemes, evidence tampering, forgery, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, all in connection with the beating death of his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in 2008.

DeMocker has maintained his innocence since his arrest.

On Thursday, more than a hundred potential jurors, pre-screened on Tuesday and Wednesday, returned to Superior Court Judge Gary E. Donahoe's courtroom. He began the day-long process of choosing the final jurors just before 10 a.m., asking the group more specific questions than he had in the previous two days.

For example:

• Were any of them connected to a murder victim?

• Had any been involved in a "difficult divorce?"

• Did any have experience involving tire prints or shoe prints?

• Did any of them regularly ride a bicycle or work on bicycles?

When Donahoe asked if any had watched TV crime shows, listing nearly a dozen examples, from the "CSI" series to "Law & Order," nearly every person raised his or her hand.

"I want to make sure that everyone who watches these shows realizes they're fictional," he said. "They don't reflect reality."

His goal, he continued, was to ensure that the jurors would not try to hold either the prosecution or defense to "some fictional standard they can't possibly meet."

Deputy County Attorney Jeff Paupore told the group that there is "no confession, no eyewitness testimony," and that all the evidence the state would present was circumstantial.

"If anyone here needs a confession or eyewitness testimony (to convict), perhaps this might not be the case for you," Paupore said.

He asked if anyone would have trouble "reaching a verdict with circumstantial evidence," but no one raised a hand.

Donahoe also asked if anyone had watched what he called "Judge shows," and, again, numerous hands went up.

"Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, I can't keep up with them all," he said. "I want to make sure you don't expect me to be like the TV judges. I'm going to be pretty quiet," noting that a study he'd seen said some jurors had become frustrated when judges in real life trials did not act like their vocal TV counterparts.

Defense attorney Craig Williams asked the potential jurors if they would "have a problem" with the defense criticizing the law enforcement officers' investigation, which he said would be a "big part of our case." No hands were raised.

Several times, he asked specific potential jurors, "If you were Mr. DeMocker, would you want you on this jury?"

Addressing an issue that several in the group had mentioned during Donahoe's questioning, Williams said, "I want to make it very clear to everybody that our position - and the evidence will show - there was no domestic violence between Steve and Carol."

Late in the day, the judge and the attorneys had made their decisions, and Donahoe swore in an 18-member jury - 12 plus six alternates, to be chosen after the testimony concludes - made up of four men and 14 women.

The lawyers will make their opening statements today, and witness testimony will begin Tuesday.

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